Pelosi's plane: The U.S. House or "Animal House"?

When the GOP just won't let go.

Published February 9, 2007 3:15PM (EST)

Disgusted by his colleagues' petty obsession with the sort of plane in which Nancy Pelosi will travel, GOP Rep. Jeff Flake suggested yesterday that the Republicans take the logical next step in attacking the Democrats: "Steal their mascot and short-sheet their beds."

Neither Flake's words nor a "Cool it" from the White House seems likely to have any effect on House Republicans, who are getting a lot of mileage on TV and talk radio by arguing that Pelosi is somehow acting inappropriately in accepting military air transportation (just as Dennis Hastert did) on a plane that can fly nonstop to her home district in California (as the Air Force apparently suggested).

So as Pelosi prepares to open debate about Iraq in the House next week, Republican members are using the last remaining minutes of free time to tweak Pelosi; they've attacked Pelosi on the House floor and in any number of media interviews, and they've even introduced an amendment to a pending energy bill calling on the country to decrease its reliance on "passenger planes with 42 business class seats capable of transcontinental fights."

As the New York Times reports, Republicans took to complaining yesterday that one of the planes that would satisfy Pelosi's needs for nonstop travel to California is so luxurious that it contains "a game room, stateroom, entertainment center and bedroom and seated 42 to 50 people." "I hardly think these amenities help with security," Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor said," and I personally would describe them as inappropriate and unnecessary extravagances."

There's no arguing with that. But we've got to wonder: Does the military really have such a plane? And if so, who is entitled to use it? If Cantor and his colleagues are really so concerned about the idea of government officials living high off taxpayers' dollars, perhaps they ought to be asking those questions themselves. But really, where's the fun in that?

Toga party, anyone?

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Nancy Pelosi D-calif.